Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Signing a Death Warrant

Certain people, starting with some Western countries, will applause the Canadian government for recognizing Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. However, to use an image, our government's decision might be a double-edged knife.

Of course, some pro-recognition arguments are not so bad. In the name of the concept of self-determination, some will say that Kosovars were victims of the Serbian occupation (albeit not from A to Z) and that they were seriously deprived from some civil rights. Moreover, others will say that dismantling the former Yugoslavia will help to solve the problems related to attempt of ethnic cleansing.

But what if Canada's decision to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence is bad? The point here is not to talk about the Serbian government's attempt to give more "autonomy" to Kosovo given the fact that this province is the birthplace of the Serbian nation.

In the first place, we can talk about the relative absence of economic foundations in the new "state". Speaking about the economic situation in Kosovo, a 2005 report from the Council of Europe mentioned that:

[...] a disastrous economic situation with unemployment affecting more than half of the population, widespread poverty and lack of basic social welfare has obvious potentially destabilizing effects. Unemployment is high and growing (60 to 70%). In the under-30 age group, 50% of the population in Kosovo is unemployed. Average income is in the region of 200 euros and the average age is about 22 years. The prospects for economic development are limited. There is little domestic investment and foreign investment is virtually nonexistent. The process of privatisation of property has been ruptured on several occasions. There is evident discontent with the socio-economic situation, which affects all communities living in Kosovo.

Moreover, we can also point out the relative absence of state authority in Kosovo. Thus, let's not be surprised if we see some instability in Kosovo in the upcoming months. As a matter of fact, the Kosovar government will have difficulty to pay attention to the 300 thousand illegal weapons present on its territory. Add to that the obvious problems of human and drug trafficking.

If we put aside the stats that we looked at, we may bear in mind that the Canadian government (just like any other Western countries) just signed a death warrant to the ethnic minorities of Kosovo (the Serbians in the first place).

Anyway, if the Kosovar government wants to be seen before the international community as a democratic state that protects and respects its ethnic minorities, we can't be sure that stability will prevail. Given the fact that tribalism is still in the mind of many people in the Balkans, the Canadian government shouldn't be surprised to see some tensions between people of Albanian and Serbian heritage in Kosovo.

Hence the obvious question: should Canada recognize a newly created country that is 1) part of Europe and 2) built on tribalism? Far from me the idea to say that the right to self-determination is rubbish. All that needs to be said is that Kosovo should be recognized if it 1) can rely on a viable economy; 2) succeeds to meet European standards in democracy, which means protecting the Serbian community against any persecution (which is currently not the case); and 3) has stable institutions (national army, police squads, etc.).

Unfortunately, no glimmer of hope can be seen for Kosovo. Therefore, my answer for Kosovo is no.

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